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Stem Cells International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 832649, 10 pages
Review Article

Endothelial Progenitor Cells in Tumor Angiogenesis: Another Brick in the Wall

1Department of Physiology, Institute of Bioscience, University of São Paulo, Rua do Matão, Travessa 14, No. 101, Room 323, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
2Medical Investigation Laboratory 12, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Avenida Dr. Arnaldo, No. 455, Room 3310, 01246-903 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 27 December 2014; Revised 25 March 2015; Accepted 27 March 2015

Academic Editor: Oswaldo Keith Okamoto

Copyright © 2015 Marina Marçola and Camila Eleuterio Rodrigues. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Until 15 years ago, vasculogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from undifferentiated cells, was thought to occur only during embryonic development. The discovery of circulating cells that are able to promote vascular regeneration and repair—the so-called endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs)—changed that, and EPCs have since been studied extensively. It is already known that EPCs include many subtypes of cells that play a variety of roles in promoting vascular growth. Some EPCs are destined to differentiate into endothelial cells, whereas others are capable of promoting and sustaining angiogenesis through paracrine mechanisms. Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis might constitute complementary mechanisms for postnatal neovascularization, and EPCs could be at the core of this process. Although the formation of new blood vessels from preexisting vasculature plays a beneficial role in many physiological processes, such as wound healing, it also contributes to tumor growth and metastasis. However, many aspects of the role played by EPCs in tumor angiogenesis remain unclear. This review aims to address the main aspects of EPCs differentiation and certain characteristics of their main function, especially in tumor angiogenesis, as well as the potential clinical applications.